Austin Robs The Limelight With Maiden BTCC Pole


A new name appeared on pole position for the seventh round of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, as Rob Austin stormed to the top spot in qualifying at Knockhill.

The WIX Racing Audi man had topped the morning’s first practice session, a result that was a message for what was to come as the former Formula 3 racer moved to the top of the times in the second half of qualifying with a supreme lap of 52.471s, beating Tom Chilton‘s 2011 lap record in doing so.

Action came to an abrupt halt with 10 minutes of the half-hour session gone, when Warren Scott managed to perch his car on top of the barriers at the Scotmans right hander after losing control of the Team HARD Volkswagen Passat, amazingly getting the car back to the pits with a modified rear end.

Andrew Jordan was the man that set the early pace in qualifying, jumping to the provisional pole slot with a 52.563s effort that demoted Colin Turkington from the position, the duo staging a battle over the remainder of the session.

That fight eventually became the battle for second place on the grid, as Austin stunned the opposition to go to pole position with just over 10 minutes left of the session, claiming his first BTCC pole by 0.047s.

Turkington was the man that came out on top in the battle for second place, beating Jordan with a late effort that puts the eBay Motors BMW on the front row in an all rear-wheel drive lock-out of the top two spots in the grid.

Jordan’s six-place grid penalty however means that he drops to ninth place on the grid for tomorrow’s first race, promoting Gordon Shedden up to the lead place on row two, sharing it with Jason Plato in the KX Momentum Racing MG.

Shedden’s team-mate Matt Neal meanwhile qualified a solid fifth on the grid despite carrying 45kg of penalty ballast in his Honda Civic, having been embroiled in a session-long dice for third with Shedden and Plato.

Adam Morgan continued his strong 2013 form by again qualifying in the top 10 with sixth position, ahead of another Toyota Avensis of Dynojet‘s Frank Wrathall, while the second MG6 of Sam Tordoff could not match his Snetterton heroics as he ended the day eighth.

Jordan will drop to ninth place ahead of another star performer, Dan Welch, who qualified his Proton inside the top 10 ahead of Aron Smith and Rob Collard.

Team HARD suffered an embarrassing moment when Paul O’Neill approached his team-mate Kieran Gallagher at the final hairpin, the returning former BTCC race winner locking up and punching into the back of his Vauxhall Insignia team-mate, the front-end damage limiting O’Neill to 18th place on the grid behind Mike Bushell.

Austin’s team-mate Will Bratt meanwhile was out of luck, his chances of a strong result shattered by a ride height test fail for his Audi, meaning he starts on the back row of the grid alongside Aiden Moffat, the Scottish rookie’s day meanwhile being effectively ruined by an engine failure.

The Jack Sears Trophy running was topped by Liam Griffin, the Addison Lee-backed Motorbase Ford driver getting the better of his rival Lea Wood in a scenario he hopes to repeat three times tomorrow on race day if he is to close to four-win gap to Wood in the Cup battle.